Sophisticated Robot Telemarketer Are Tricking The Masses
As technology continues to change, so does the need of the federal government to address harassing calls from telemarketers. The newest telemarketer to come on the market is actually a robot that has one of the most sophisticated text-to-speech recognition engines on the market today. Designed by Loquendo, an Italian-based company, it is so authentic it even won an award in 2009 for the best speech engine on the market today.
This makes it extremely difficult for the average consumer to even tell that they are talking to a robot until they are told to punch a number to speak to a live representative. Telemarketing companies using this technology are finding many advantages in that those who are actually put through to a human are often interested in what’s being offered. But this goes beyond telemarketing in that any voice can be used which opens its use to many areas where the opinions of others, and influencing those opinions, can impact the future. For instance, if Hillary Clinton’s voice were used on a robot and called voters individually to “chat” prior to a presidential election, would they be more likely to vote for her?
This forced a move by the Federal Trade Commission in 2009 to update the FTC Telemarketing Sales Rule that makes robocalls illegal. John Libowitz, Chairman of the FTC stated, “…this bombardment of prerecorded pitches, senseless solicitations, and malicious marketing will be illegal. If consumers think they’re being harassed by robocallers, they need to let us know, and we will go after them.” The result is one of the stiffest fines for violators in history in the amount of $16,000 per call.
The majority of telemarketing calls received will be related to time shares and car warranties which are illegal, but even with these laws exceptions apply when it comes to robocallers. Politicians, banks, charities, and telcos can use this system even if they ask for money. These organizations are also exempt from the “do not call list.” Therefore, you may end up talking to a Hillary robot and not realize it’s not the real person. This can influence whether or not money is donated to a campaign or worthy charity.
For companies that are trying to stay on the right side of the law with telemarketing, written consent is required by law. Even then there must be an opt-out feature built within the system. They must also ring phone at least four times before hanging up and have a prerecorded message that starts within two seconds of when someone answers the phone.
For those who are not on the national “do not call list” yet, telemarketing calls are allowed and can be expected. For many when they hear a prerecorded message they hang up immediately, but with the development of the new speech recognition robot that has the best text-to-speech synthesizer on the market today, it’s hard to tell that it’s not a human. By asking specific questions that require the ability of the human brain to analyze and respond appropriately, detecting robocallers is possible. If on the “do not call list,” however, should a telemarketing call be received, filing a complaint with the FCC immediately will help curb use of this new technology.